2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI Vs. 2019 Volkswagen Golf R

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI and 2019 Volkswagen Golf R, separated by a diagonal line and a "VS" logo

Volkswagen makes not one, but two hot hatch models: the Volkswagen Golf GTI and the Volkswagen Golf R. As a result, some buyers wonder what sets these two apart. Which performance-oriented hatchback is right for you?

We’re here to help answer that common question with our model comparison. Check out the table below to learn the basics, and then read on for a dissection of the particular strengths of each ride. One thing is sure: whichever you choose, you’re going to get a satisfying, capable, and stylish VW machine.

Happy hatching!

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI


2019 Volkswagen Golf R

$28,595 Starting MSRP $40,395
24 city / 32 highway Fuel Economy 23 city / 30 highway
228 hp Horsepower 288 hp
258 lb-ft Torque 280 lb-ft
Front-Wheel Drive Drivetrain All-Wheel Drive

Volkswagen Sports Car Comparison

While both the 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI and 2019 Volkswagen Golf R are performance-oriented four-door hatchbacks that seat up to five passengers, the main difference between the two lies in the levels of performance that can be achieved.

The 2019 Golf R boasts an even more powerful version of the already-sprightly turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that powers the 2020 Golf GTI. This allows it to generate those higher horsepower and torque figures shown above.

The 2019 Golf R comes in only a single trim level, and it’s loaded with advanced safety, entertainment and performance features. The 2020 Golf GTI is more versatile in its options- it comes with two trims (down from four the year before) and offers an Autobahn package for the SE trim.

This versatility is part of what allows the 2020 Golf GTI its significantly lower starting MSRP. The Golf GTI also has different warranty coverage, as VW has changed things up in this realm for its 2020 models.

Is there a 2020 VW Golf R?

One difference you may have noticed between the models in the table above is the model year. This is because, while the VW Golf GTI has an incarnation branded for the 2020 model year, the VW Golf R appears to be taking a year off. It is expected to return as a 2021 model, but for now, the iteration we know best is the 2019 machine.

We’re excited to see what changes VW makes to the Golf R after this brief hiatus. If it’s anything like the hiatus the band Phish took in the early 2000s, it’s sure to be an interesting return.

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